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Plan at Hand: A Success Story Against Challenges

These seed grants were funded by Johnson & Johnson and WomanCare Global via the Women Deliver C Exchange Youth Initiative

By: Maureen Anyango Oduor, Plan At Hand Girl Empowerment Project (Tanzania)

To most effectively engage adolescent girls in their own healthcare decision-making, they must be approached on their own turf. The use of technology and social media is widespread among adolescents, and these tools have the potential to improve healthcare delivery and health outcomes.

Pregnancy among adolescent girls is prevalent in Tanzania, potentially leading to health and other complications. Babies born to teenage mothers are more likely to be born preterm, to be of low birth weight, and to have higher rates of morbidity and mortality than those born to older women. Read more...

Understanding the Experience and Needs of the Target Population is Crucial to a Project’s Success

These seed grants were funded by Johnson & Johnson and WomanCare Global via the Women Deliver C Exchange Youth Initiative.

By: Chukwudera Bridget Okeke, Concern Women International Development Initiative (Nigeria)

In Nigeria, people speak many different languages, so it is important to cater to each target population’s language needs. For the implementation of the project, all presentations used for training workshops were translated into the Tiv dialect, as majority of the participants did not understand English. In addition, we have trained and deployed more Female Sex Workers (FSW) as peer-educators, since many are native Tiv speakers. This has allowed us to reach more people, including FSW and their clients who are not based in brothels. While we were initially concerned about this language barrier, our efforts seem to have overcome this challenge. Given the feedback we have received, it appears that more and more FSW are being reached by the project. An important lesson to be learned from this, however, is that understanding the local context is crucial to the success of a project. Read more…

Adolescent Motherhood: Challenges and Lessons Learned for SRHR Advocacy

These seed grants were funded by Johnson & Johnson and WomanCare Global via the Women Deliver C Exchange Youth Initiative.

By: Cecilia Garcia Ruiz, Espolea (Mexico)

Working on the phenomenon of adolescent and young motherhood requires a deep understanding of the various structural factors leading to early pregnancies and parenting. As my team and I have carried out our project, the first challenge we faced was the invisibility of teenage and young mothers as key populations within the country’s sexual and reproductive health policies.

What we learned from this was the importance of exploring the diverse realities of the adolescent and young mothers in Mexico, while contextualizing the strategies aimed at promoting and ensuring their sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). An example is identifying potential protective (e.g. family and community networks) or risk factors (e.g. violence and exclusion) in an adolescent or young mother’s life that could enable or hinder her to overcome the economic, social, and cultural barriers they face to fully exercise their rights. Read more...

Young Leader Nargis Shirazi Nominated for The Waislitz Global Citizen Award

Nargis Shirazi, one of Women Deliver’s Young Leaders, Founder of the Wo-man Foundation, and It Takes Two Campaign Project Manager, has been nominated for the Waislitz Global Citizen Award in recognition of her work to empower girls and women in Uganda by advancing their sexual and reproductive health and rights.

The Global Poverty Project, in partnership with Alex Waislitz, presents the award to shine a spotlight on the outstanding individuals who are working to improve the lives of people around the world. Individuals are nominated based on four key areas: embodiment of global citizenship; proven impact with a substantial record of making lasting change and creating opportunities for the world’s poor; innovation that brings new thinking to overcoming the challenges of ending poverty; and the potential to improve their work. Nargis was nominated for this inaugural award alongside David Auerberch from Washington DC and Anoop Jain and Swapnil Chartuvedi, both from India. Read more...

Sustainable Development Depends on Ensuring Access to Young People’s SRHR

These seed grants were funded by Johnson & Johnson and WomanCare Global via the Women Deliver C Exchange Youth Initiative.

By: Tunde Ajidagba, Campus Health & Rights Initiative (Nigeria)

I’m demanding young people’s access to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) in the post-2015 agenda because is their fundamental human right. It encompasses the right of all individuals to make decisions concerning their sexual activity and reproduction, free from all discrimination, coercion, and violence. Access to SRHR ensures individuals are able to choose whether, when, and with whom to engage in sexual activity; to choose whether and when to have children; and to access the information and services to do so.

As we celebrate International Youth Day, even though the global community has made major strides in improving sexual and reproductive health outcomes since the International Conference and Population and Development (ICPD) in 1994, it is important to remember that millions of people, mostly adolescents, still lack access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health information and services. Read more...

Now Is the Time to Include the Voices of Young People

By: Mallah Tabot, United Vision (Cameroon)

I’m demanding young people’s access to sexual and reproductive health and rights in the post-2015 agenda because we can’t wait afford to wait any longer. In 2014, it is a shame that young people have limited or no control over their sexual health. It is a shame that SRHR services are still managed as a luxury item for the 99%, while basic education on sexual health and rights don’t have a place in our educational system. And, why should the decision to have or not have a child be left in the hands of fate or chance or luck instead of choice?

Working in a small rural community in southwest Cameroon, I have seen the stark realities of the lack of education and access to SRHR by young people. My interaction with the small village of Eshobi has exposed me to horrific realities of girls and women’s health - the conditions under which thousands of young girls are forced to live in - because SRHR and comprehensive sexuality education in our educational system is not a priority for our politicians. Read more...

Why Do Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Matter for Young People in the Post-2015 Agenda?

These seed grants were funded by Johnson & Johnson and WomanCare Global via the Women Deliver C Exchange Youth Initiative.

By: Chukwudera Bridget Okeke, Concern Women International Development Initiative (Nigeria)

Today, adolescents constitute about half of the world’s population – more than ever before. Worldwide, the number of adolescents is estimated at 1.1 billion, with 85% of them living in developing countries. Half of these young people will have sexual intercourse by the time they reach the age of 16 and most of them by the time they are 20.

There is a high incidence of unwanted pregnancies in many developing countries. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports that out of the 200 million pregnancies that occur each year, about 80 million are unwanted. It has been estimated that about 10% of all pregnancies each year occur among teenagers. Most of these pregnancies are either unwanted or unintended. Often times, adolescents are forced to resort to clandestine, and usually unsafe, abortion methods to terminate these pregnancies. Read more...

Q&A Interview with Influential Jamaican Midwife Victoria Melhado

Originally posted by the Maternal Health Task Force

This post is part of our “Supporting the Human in Human Resources” blog series co-hosted by the Maternal Health Task Force and Jacaranda Health.

Katja Iversen is the CEO of Women Deliver, a global advocacy organization that brings together diverse voices and interests to share solutions and drive progress in maternal and sexual and reproductive health and rights. Women Deliver builds capacity and forges partnerships – together creating networks, messages and action that spark political commitment and investment in the health, rights, and well-being of girls and women.

Victoria Melhado is a Jamaican advocate, midwife, and one of Women Deliver’s Young Leaders. Victoria is an active member of several committees, including the Nurses Association of Jamaica, and is the youngest winner of the prestigious National Nurse of the Year award. Ms. Melhado is also a member of the National Youth Month Planning Committee and is the author of ‘Be Inspired!’, a book of inspirational poems. Read more...

Girls, Adolescents and Youth: Heard. Involved. Engaged.

By: Cecilia Garcia Ruiz, Espolea and Sumaya Saluja, Global Education First Initiative 

The 3rd PMNCH Partners' Forum is over, yet the commitments that have been made prevail. Young people present at the forum were critical, active, and brought attention to key issues affecting adolescents and youth around the world. During the youth pre-meeting, we worked collectively to shape an outcome document, which clearly outlines specific priorities for adolescents and young people in the definition of the post-2015 agenda. During the two days that followed, we advocated to leverage political commitment and accountability.

Investing in adolescents and youth as agents of change pays. Investing in these populations ensures we will be able to reach other young people and provide a better future for the generations to come. Turning the tide on poverty, violence, discrimination and inequality requires young people to be heard, involved and engaged.

Read more...

Young People: Our Present and Our Future

By: Katja Iversen, Women Deliver

Nelson Mandela once said: "Whenever I am with young people, I feel like a recharged battery." I couldn't agree more, after having spent the last couple of days with a good bunch of the Women Deliver Young Leaders at the Partnership on Maternal, Child and Newborn Health (PMNCH) Partners' Forum in Johannesburg, South Africa.

When young people tell me what motivated them to advocate for girls' and women's health and rights, their stories are at once heartbreaking and inspiring. For Yemurai Nyoni in Zimbabwe, it was a 12-year-old girl named Tecla who was sold into marriage and contracted HIV. For Mary Mwende in Kenya, it was the violence of male-dominated politics that she witnessed as a child in the slums of Mombasa. When faced with injustice, these young leaders took action to improve the world around them -- and their stories, in turn, inspire others. Read more...

It’s All Possible: We Have the Solution in Our Hands!

By: Martin E. Wanzala, Uganda

As deliberations on the post-2015 development agenda at the 3rd PMNCH Partners’ Forum here in Johannesburg, South Africa gain momentum, it is a great opportunity for young people to ensure that their voices are heard when and where it matters most.

The post-2015 development discussion is one of the most important debates of our time. The global framework that world leaders agree upon in 2015 will guide all future government policies and spending on social and economic development in both developed and developing countries. Read more...

Let’s Go Deeper into Remote Areas for the Post-2015 Development Goals

By: Mary Mwende, Kenya

The first day of the PMNCH Partners’ Forum was an exciting one. I have listened to all of the sessions with keen interest. The forum is a fountain of knowledge and information, with every sentiment converging at the same point. The unity of thought clamors for one common goal - to create a better and healthier world for mothers and newborns around the world, particularly for those who are most vulnerable and impoverished.

I agree with all of this and hope it will be achieved.

As we discussed during the youth pre-forum yesterday, there is a lot left to achieve when it comes to Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5. More young people have to be meaningfully involved to continue making progress. A drive to create change among youth must be led by the young! Regrettably, the most afflicted youth - particularly girls - are seldom involved in these conversations. Read more...

Young People Engage in a New Challenge – Everybody Counts

By: Gonzalo Nicolas Infante Grandon, Chile

It was with great momentum that the PMNCH Partner’s Forum began yesterday in Johannesburg, kicking off with a Youth Pre-Forum and NGO constituency meetings.  This year, unlike other years, young people are part of the discussions and contributions fostered by the forum.

With 500 days left to reach the targets set by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), we must go further - with more decisiveness, more strength, and more passion – to accelerate progress in this last push and achieve a better future. Beyond the act of deliberating upcoming policies, we must evaluate the strategies and practices that have already been implemented. We must deepen our understanding and rectify our errors. As we do this, it is worth asking: How have young people been involved? Has it has been enough? Read more...

Be seen! Be heard! Youth at the 3rd PMNCH Partners’ Forum

By: Yemurai Nyoni and Lindsay Menard-Freeman, Women Deliver

This 3rd PMNCH Partners’ Forum is the first large-scale involvement of young people to date. Out of the approximately 1000 participants here in Johannesburg, nearly 10% are youth representatives under 30. This is a great start, and a clear opportunity to increase meaningful youth engagement in the forum and others like it. Will PMNCH consider including a youth constituency to its other seven constituencies while mainstreaming youth within and throughout? We really hope so.

Partners’ Forum representatives come together from governments, civil society, development agencies, private sector, and the media to deliberate on how best to accelerate progress for women, children and adolescents in the context of RMNCH. Youth representatives are uniquely positioned to put our issues front and center, and to magnify our contributions to advancing maternal and newborn health. Read more...

Closing the Gap; Millennium Development Goals 8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1

By: Victoria Melhado, Women Deliver 100 Young Leader; Originally posted on Impatient Optimists and Frontline Health Workers

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
-Margaret Mead

Today, I say proudly that nurses are changing the world. In 2000, the United Nations adopted the Millennium Declaration, which laid out the framework for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The eight MDGs take a holistic approach to poverty reduction, covering education, gender equality, health, environmental sustainability and the need for a global partnership to facilitate the realization of these goals. Read more...

Women Deliver ‘Young Leader’ Wins Prestigious Journalism Award

John Muchangi Njiru, a young journalist from Kenya and one of Women Deliver’s “100 Young Leaders” from 2010 was recently presented with the HIV/AIDS Reporting Award at the 2012 CNN African Journalist Awards. Read more...

Women, Adolescents, and Young People are Critical for Sustainable Development

By: Adeolu Ogunrombi, one of the Women Deliver 100 Young Leaders
Originally posted on Adeolu’s blog

nigeria.JPGThe truth that adolescent girls occupy the lowest rank in the hierarchy of gender power relationships and its effect on their holistic development is an issue of utmost importance and urgency. My mind went down memory lane and remembered an experience I had some years back while working with a health facility supported by the World Bank to provide care and treatment on HIV/AIDS in one of the North Central states, very close to Abuja the Federal Capital of Nigeria.

There was a time we noticed in the HIV counseling and testing unit that so many of our clients coming from a particular village within the suburb were testing positive for HIV. The incidence became of concern to me and my colleagues and we were curious to know why this was happening in a village that has little or no social infrastructure. Read more...

World Contraception Day: The Importance of Educating Young Women

Get Involved: Add Your Own Perspectives At The Conversations For A Better World Blog Series

By: Saba Ismail, one of the Women Deliver 100 Young Leaders and program manager of the “Sahailee Hotline”

In Pakistan, talking about sexual and reproductive health, sexuality and contraception is considered taboo. The truth is, Pakistan is a conservative country and the people here have feudal norms and culture. Young people cannot talk about contraception nor discuss it with their friends – when they do, they are considered vulgar. They’re not allowed to ask questions about topics like contraception because their use is considered a sin, and some doctors won’t give their patients permission to use contraception because they consider it anti-Islamic. According many people’s religious beliefs, women shouldn’t use contraception because children are “a gift from God” and we should not reject such a precious gift. The only way doctors recommend that husbands and wives stop having children is by avoiding intercourse altogether – they make no mention of modern contraception. People here believe that if someone does not want to produce children, they should just avoid intercourse. Read more...

World Contraception Day: “Hombres y mujeres jóvenes y el acceso a anticonceptivos”?

Get Involved: Add Your Own Perspectives At The Conversations For A Better World Blog Series

Yunuen_Flores_Blog_Pic.jpg

What Is The Difference Between How Young Women And Men Learn About And Access Birth Control Methods? And Why?

By: Yunuén Flores, Director of the Gender Program

I’m a young female activist and even more importantly, I live in a Latin American country: Mexico. I come from a culture that is patriarchal, machista, religious and full of taboos. Ah, and I already told you that I’m a woman! So I have lived my life with different rules than the men in my community, typecast by social norms that we ourselves have created. Read more...

Young People and Maternal, Newborn and Child Health in Nigeria: Youth e-consultation

By: Esther Agbarakwe & Kikelomo Taiwo, Women Deliver 100 Young Leaders; posted on the WRA blog here

Globally between 350,000 and 550,000 girls and women die from complications due to pregnancy and childbirth every year, while 10-20 million girls and women suffer from maternal morbidities according to UNFPA. Each death represents a family’s loss of a sister, daughter, partner, mother, or friend. Early sexual exposure is an important reproductive risk factor among young people in Nigeria as many of them lack information and life planning skills to delay the onset of sexual activities. Read more...

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